ST. FRANCOIS CO., Mo. ( -- A man accused of animal abuse made a court appearance Tuesday in St. Francois County.

A yellow lab named Trooper was found by animal rescuers in February after they say he was shot, hit with a hammer and left for dead near Farmington.

More than $14,000 has been raised to support his recovery and he even has a fan club named “Team Trooper”.

“Easy to forget how bad he looked, they had to remove a quarter of his skin off his back leg because he was laying in his feces and urine and it burned through his skin,” said animal supporter Karen Runk.

Jason Hampton is charged with animal abuse. He waived a preliminary hearing Tuesday which means the case will now go to trial. He has entered a not guilty plea.

Animal supporters and a supporter of Hampton exchanged words outside the courthouse.

“It is important for Team Trooper to remain professional and respectful we don’t want to be known as the crazy dog people we want to be known as activist fighting for animal rights,” said Mandy Ryan with Missouri K9 Friends.

Hampton’s attorney said they had no comment.

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